**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley (thank you, Roaring Brook Press!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**
Book: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He
Release Date: May 4, 2021
My Rating: 4.75 stars
Rep: ownvoices East Asian protagonists
CW: terminal illness, suicide, violence (including choking), death, death of parent (off page), vomiting, large scale natural disasters and mass casualties, some gore
Summary: One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars with sci-fi scope, Lost with a satisfying resolution.
Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.
STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-cities—Earth’s last unpolluted place—are meant to be sanctuary for those committed to planetary protection, but they’re populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.
SONG OF THE DAY:
“Blue Side” by j-hope
“We’re not stars,” I declare . . . “We get to choose the places we go and the people we find.”
“Do we?” [He] wonders. “I don’t think either of us came here by choice. And I think we have even less choice over the ones we’re meant to find.”
As a member of Joan He’s street team since her debut, I’ve been eagerly anticipating her sophomore book. This book definitely lived up to the wait! The Ones We’re Meant to Find was a gripping read about complex sister relationships, the effects of climate change, and what it means to find ourselves.
Three years ago, Cee woke up on an abandoned island with no clothes and no memories, other than the notion that she has a sister, Kasey, and she needs to find her. Parallelly, Kasey is dealing with the grief of Celia’s disappearance as well as the impending doom of Earth as pollution causes more and more eco-disasters. She has to decide whether she’s willing to use her skills to help the world, even if it won’t save Celia.
Forgive me if this review is incoherent; I’m still processing this book! I actually think I’ll have to reread it soon to fully appreciate everything. I’m also trying very, very hard not to spoil something accidentally.
Much of this book deals with the aftereffects of climate change. Kasey, along with her family, live in an eco-city, a city built in the air. Eco-cities were constructed because of the toxicity of the Earth although people still live on the land due to the lack of space in the eco-cities. Natural disasters, like devastating earthquakes, are occurring more and more often, and chemicals are poisoning the earth and the ocean. This was certainly interesting to follow as a plot and really brings to life an issue that is pervasive in our own lives.
While this book is centered around climate change, it is also very rooted in Celia and Kasey’s complex relationship. We get both of their points-of-view, so we get to see their bond despite how different they are. Celia is lively and outgoing; Kasey is reserved and pragmatic. I loved how even the writing reflected this: Celia’s chapters are from a first person point-of-view, which shows how sure she is of herself, while Kasey’s are in third person, demonstrating almost a disconnected feeling. This also mirrors their emotions throughout the book, as Celia struggles to remember her life before and Kasey grieves.
Although their chapters follow separate plot lines, you can clearly see how much Celia and Kasey mean to each other. Celia’s singular motivation is to find Kasey; meanwhile, Kasey is dealing with her grief over the disappearance of the one person who means the most to her. However, while they are undeniably close, they still keep secrets from each other, which Kasey finds out throughout the story. Celia and Kasey’s relationship is the driving force behind both of their stories; they’re meant to find each other, even if finding each other means learning something about the other they didn’t want to know.
I am vast as an ocean, the only sea I don’t have to cross, and for the first time in a long time, I remember what it feels like to drown in myself.
The writing was gorgeous, as expected. The ocean plays many roles in this book, as you may have noticed from the cover, but I loved how Joan utilized it as both a literal and figurative player. Physically, it is something that Celia has fixated on, an obsession that Kasey begrudgingly went along with. Figuratively, the sea and drowning represent loss and the vastness of emotion and so much more. There are actually more dots I could connect, but again, spoilers!
Between them, they shared an ocean of loss. It was under their chins, threatening to drown them the moment they sank.
I’ve been purposely vague about their specific plot lines, as well as mentioning other characters, because I’m afraid of spoiling something, even if it’s just something small. Joan herself called this a “twist-y” book and believe me, this book is completely filled with plot twists. While the book may be confusing at first, there’s a moment when all the pieces start clicking together, and you start realizing something bad is to come, and then the plot twists just keep coming. And they don’t stop! Once I began processing one revelation, something new would be revealed. I actually couldn’t put this book down, even reading during my classes.
This is a standalone and wraps up…I don’t want to say nicely because the ending has caused me so much emotional distress, but the ending is very poignant and reflects the protagonists’ arcs very well. Although I’m still crying over exactly how the book ended, I really did like where Celia and Kasey end up.
The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a beautiful story about love and loss. I adored the characters and the writing; the plot was amazing and masterfully paced. If you want a gorgeously written book about sisters, or one that analyzes a world living with the consequences of climate change, I cannot recommend The Ones We’re Meant to Find enough.
About the Author: Joan He was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that storytelling was her favorite form of expression. She studied Psychology and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the Delaware River. Descendant of the Crane is her debut young adult fantasy. Her next novel, The Ones We’re Meant to Find, will be forthcoming from Macmillan on May 4th, 2021.